By David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin
WINNFIELD, Louisiana (CNN) - A judge has sealed a potentially explosive
videotape taken in the aftermath of a racially charged incident in this small
central Louisiana town two years ago.
On January 17, 2008, an unarmed man - wanted on what police said was an
outstanding arrest warrant - was struck by a 50,000-volt Taser nine times
within the space of 14 minutes.
The suspect, Baron "Scooter" Pikes, was handcuffed during each separate
Taser incident, according to the Winnfield Police Department. The officer who
fired the Taser, Scott Nugent, is white. Pikes, who was pronounced dead on
arrival at a hospital, was black.
CNN's account of the incident in the summer of 2008 relied on interviews
at the time with the local parish coroner, the police and an attorney for the
family of the victim.
Winn Parish Coroner Dr. Randy Williams told CNN that in his opinion,
Nugent had violated every police procedure for using a Taser on a suspect.
Moreover, contrary to initial police reports, Williams told CNN that there was
no trace of drugs in Pikes' system. The coroner ruled the death a homicide.
Subsequently, the officer was fired following a long civil service hearing and
is now on trial for manslaughter in Winnfield.
At the time, a lawyer for Nugent, Phillip Terrell, told CNN that his
client had, in fact, followed proper procedure and that Pikes was resisting
arrest and had fought with Nugent before being struck by the Taser.
The video sealed Monday by the judge shows the aftermath of Nugent's
Taser use, according to sources who have seen the tape. They told CNN that it
runs about 17 minutes and was shot by Nugent himself.
The tape begins with Pikes handcuffed to a chair in the Winnfield Police
Department, the sources said. He had already been hit by a so-called "direct"
stun - a Taser fired directly into his chest rather than from a distance –
and eight other Taser shots.
Off camera, voices can be heard taunting him, shouting the "N" word and
demanding to know if he was high on drugs, the sources said. The tape also
shows Pikes foaming at the mouth and struggling to breathe. He later slumps to
the floor and is ultimately taken to an emergency room with shackles around
both of his ankles. CNN has seen still photographs of the lifeless body, still
in leg shackles at the hospital.
Filed under: Drew Griffin Special Investigations Unit